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Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (commonly referred to as ADD or ADHD – though AD/HD is the technically correct abbreviation) is a neurologically based condition characterized by problems with attention, impulse control, and hyperactivity.

Symptoms of ADHD develop in childhood, but can persist into adolescence and adulthood. Without appropriate identification and treatment, ADHD can have serious consequences including chronic under-achievement, school/work failure, problematic and strained relationships, lowered self-esteem and can result in increased risk for depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, ADHD affects an estimated 3 to 5 percent of preschool and school age children in the United States. To put these numbers into perspective, in a class of 25 to 30 children, it is likely that at least one student will have ADHD. The majority of these children will continue to experience impairing symptoms into adolescence and adulthood.

Boys are diagnosed two to three times as often as girls, though this difference in rate of diagnosis for males and females seems to even out in adulthood with adult males and adult females being diagnosed at a more equal ratio of one to one.
Related Reading:
Do Kids Outgrow ADHD?
Can You Develop ADHD as an Adult?
Is There a Difference Between ADD and ADHD?

Symptoms of ADHD

Symptoms of ADHD can present very differently from person to person and across the lifespan. The ways these symptoms impact an individual can range from mild to severely impairing. Presentation of symptoms can also vary depending on situational factors. There are three primary subtypes of ADHD that are identified depending on the combination of symptoms a person experiences. The assignment of these subtypes is not fixed. In other words, a person may move from one subtype to another depending on the primary symptoms he or she currently exhibits.

Below is a listing of the subtypes along with characteristic behaviors seen in each.

ADHD: Predominately Inattentive Type
fails to give close attention to details, makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work or other activities
is easily distracted, has difficulty paying attention in tasks, especially on tasks that are long and tedious
does not seem to listen when spoken to directly, may daydream, mind seems to be elsewhere even in the absence of any obvious distraction
struggles to follow through on instructions and to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace
has difficulty with organization
avoids or dislikes activities that require sustained mental effort
often loses things
is frequently forgetful
ADHD: Predominately Hyperactive-Impulsive Type
fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected, may feel restless during activities or situations in which remaining seated is expected
runs around or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in teens and adults may be limited to feelings of restlessness)
has difficulty engaging in activities quietly
is often “on the go” or acts as if “driven by a motor,” is uncomfortable being still for an extended time
talks excessively, hyper-talkative
tends to act without thinking, such as starting on tasks without adequate preparation (for example, before listening or reading through directions) or blurting out answers before questions have been completed, hyper-reactive
uncomfortable doing things slowly and systematically, tends to rush through activities
often has difficulty awaiting turn, impatient (this may be displayed through feelings of restlessness)
interrupts or intrudes on others, butts into conversations or games
may make impulsive decisions without thinking through consequences, impaired ability to stop, think, inhibit, plan and then act

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